Nearly every schoolchild knows the story of Anne Frank; her diary is required reading in many schools. Through her writing, we have a first-person account of a Jewish girl’s experience of the Holocaust: the fear, the hiding, the thoughts of a better future. The power of Anne’s words continues to reach millions of children and families. Through the exhibit, visitors can explore Anne Frank’s world and wisdom, while learning how everyone can make a difference with the power of words.
The year Ruby Bridges was born, the U.S. Supreme Court charted a new course for the nation in Brown v. Board of Education, ruling that segregation of African American students in public schools was inherently unequal. Six years later, Ruby herself put a personal face on this momentous decision when she was among the first black students to integrate the white school system in New Orleans in 1960. The Power of Children tells the story of Ruby and the pioneering role she played in the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s.
In the early 1980s, reports of a new disease called AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome) terrified the nation. Even after facts became available about how AIDS is spread, fear and misinformation were rampant. Ryan White, a teenager who contracted AIDS through medication for his hemophilia, was expelled from his school due to his condition. His fight to return to school and live a normal life made him famous around the world. The exhibit shows how Ryan chose to speak up for his rights and dedicated himself to educating the world about AIDS and its victims. Ryan became one of the country’s foremost spokespersons on behalf of his fellow sufferers, and the power of his voice continues to resonate today in classrooms throughout the world.
Most of us will never face the extreme prejudice and hatred that Anne, Ruby, and Ryan encountered, but many of us have experienced discrimination and bullying at some time in our lives. The Power of Children encourages children and their families to reflect on the significance of these three stories and the brave actions of Anne Frank, Ruby Bridges, and Ryan White, helping to put these experiences in perspective and inspiring visitors to bring about positive change in the world.
This exhibition is made possible by NEH on the Road, a special initiative of the National Endowment for the Humanities.
The Power of Children: Making a Difference was organized by The Children's Museum of Indianapolis.
It was adapted and toured by